Temptu Harnesses the Beauty of UGC
Influencer marketing is an old concept, despite the increased attention it receives today. Marketers have always relied on the endorsements of high profile public figures, particularly in the beauty industry, where celebrities from Marilyn Monroe to Kim Kardashian have set the standards for entire generations. As one of the leading brands in the makeup and beauty space, Temptu understands this.
The popular airbrush brand knew the power in a co-sign, so its influencers were always integral to its business, with the company even going as far as creating a sister site dedicated to showcasing the work of professionals using its products in the entertainment space. The problem was that, like many in its industry, Temptu had no clear way to leverage this content, and was ill equipped to adjust to the influx of UGC from this rapidly expanding network of creators.
“We knew user generated content was very powerful, and supremely effective in the beauty space,” says Andrew Bowman, EVP of digital marketing at Temptu. “We had the functionality [to leverage UGC], but never really felt like we were using it. We just treated it like it was there, but didn't really allow it to reach its full potential.”
Temptu's challenge was twofold: it had a massive audience of creators mixed with influencers, and while it had the basic functionality to bring that community together on its Pro site, it had no tech in place to fully disperse that content around the site, or to leverage all of the content that this community was creating. At least, not until early 2016, after a chance meeting with the visual marketing platform Pixlee.
The two companies began talking after bumping into each other at a user conference for the e-commerce platform Magento, of which Pixlee and Temptu are customers.
The Pro site had been in use for some time already, and was popular among Temptu customers and creators. But a sub par user experience, a convoluted checkout, and little to no integration of its UGC with the rest of the site plagued the brand's efforts. The partnership with Pixlee would prove instrumental in rectifying all of this, and would see Temptu unifying its massive audience of professional creators and influencers in one place, and empowering them to publish “shoppable” content all around the site. But the two companies first had to work through a couple of issues.
“Temptu had a very beautiful site, but it was very brand oriented,” says Andrew Higgins, director of marketing at Pixlee.
Like other beauty brands, Temptu was still focused on creating and pushing its own content, a sound strategy in almost any other vertical. “Brands have to create so much content, [but] they just aren't fast enough... and it doesn't scale with every single consumer being a media company today,” Higgins says. “People are posting something like 2.5 billion photos a day.”
This was especially problematic for Temptu, given its clout and considerable following. The company boasts some 78,000 followers on its Instagram account alone, to say nothing of the thousands of posts circulating around hashtags associated with the brand. With such a large creative community, it made little sense for Temptu to continue prioritizing its own content for marketing on its pro site, a site ostensibly designed to promote influencers using the company's products. Yet the Pro site did little to leverage this content beyond a standard image gallery,
“In addition to being a cost effective thing, we saw [the Pixlee partnership] as a way to take the multiple formulas that we sell on our Pro site, and the diverse community that exists there, to show our versatility,” Bowman says. “Being able to curate the images that these artists create, and putting them all over the site was really powerful and, again, cost effective, as opposed to us doing those shoots in house.”
With a clear goal in mind, the two companies set about tackling the next big issue: identifying influencers.
The modern beauty influencer is vastly different from the supermodels of the '90s, or A-list celebrities from any period. Popular beauty vloggers like Bethany Mota and Sophia Chang represent the paradigm shift that dictates that virtually anyone can be a powerful voice in modern media. Although obtaining quality posts from users was never an issue for Temptu, it still needed a way to pull out the great from the good to ensure its UGC hub Pro site had the best content on display possible.
“In many cases, the art that is created and published [on the Pro site] is professionally shot. [Some] of it is as good or better than what we could do ourselves, but it does take a lot of weeding through images,” Bowman says. “The Pixlee platform itself provides a lot of tools to help filter based on the different hashtags that we use for our brand, and really helps us to identify influencers that are often posting about us.” Additionally, Temptu employees a digital editor who is responsible for curating and approving the images that populate the site, and for mapping products to the images. That last bit is the crux of the Temptu/Pixlee partnership, and is the makeup brand's dream of leveraging UGC made reality.
“We wanted to explore ways to make the shopping experience more engaging, and also bring in the community element, because Temptu has such a strong community,” Higgins says.
This effort manifested itself in a massive expansion of the Pro site's old UGC image gallery to a publishing system that essentially uses UGC in place of branded content. By fully integrating with Temptu's Magento-based ecommerce system, Pixlee's technology allows Temptu to link UGC on its Pro site to actual products, thereby allowing customers to shop directly from user posts on Temptu's Instagram.
In the six months since the new and improved Pro site launched, Temptu has already reaped the benefits of monetizing its UGC. Users who engage with shoppable images spend 12% more on average than those who don't, and are 2.35 times more likely to complete purchases overall.“ The thing we're really proud to hang our hat on is that impact on convergence,” Higgins says. “Being able to tangibly measure that customer photos improve the online shopping experience.”
Marketers often profess the merits of UGC, but it's still unfortunately rare that a business takes the content its users are creating and truly activates it. In the Temptu case, not only was the company able to make money and increase conversions through UGC, but the shopping experience as well has been enhanced and streamlined to the point that shoppers can buy directly from a lightbox on the company website. Given its success, customers can expect similar functionality to roll out on other Temptu portals going forward
“What we've done is really start to focus on how we roll this out to more [product detail pages], and creating and curating that content to live on both our consumer and Pro sites,” Bowman says. “Customers want to be inspired, they want that social proof. For makeup and cosmetics especially, they want to find someone they relate to who has similar skin. That to me is really promising.”